Thought for a lifetime

Einstein made the very important observation that " Imagination is more important than knowledge ".

Monday, December 27, 2010

I Think I Can, I Think I Can...

Often students inquire when I began sewing... well this picture that my brother transferred from long buried family slides finally answers that compelling question. Apparently I began sewing EXTREMELY young :) This photo is probably from 1963-1965
Note the keen concentration and ambitious project. Or else I'm sewing on something I wasn't suppose to and was trying to sew quick before I got caught.
Option two is much more likely to be correct!

Saturday, December 11, 2010


As I have mentioned on previous posts, there aren't many contests I meet that I don't like...

This contest is sponsored by a Family & Consumer Sciences CCC Chancellor's Office Grant.

The rules and deadlines are posted on their website CCCFCS which is listed to the right under the heading "and the winner is... "

Just click on the fashion link after you access the site. You also can just attend the 2011 Fashion Symposium on Saturday April 16th at the California Market Center in LA at 110 East Ninth Street, 90079 from 9am to 2pm.
Tickets are $15 and include the Symposium, Lunch and Fashion Show. Tickets available online only at

If I'm in town I'm definitely going! Any excuse to go to the fashion district in LA :)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Where a Wild Hair Will Take You...

I had been feeling very restless and uninspired by fabrics I was finding at OC fabric stores ( read Joann's Fabrics ) so Friday about noon I decided quite spontaneously to drive to LA.
After some serious traffic delays, a firetruck closing some lanes, crazy drivers and a little luck I arrived in downtown about 2pm.
First stop is always Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising at 9th and Grand for two compelling reasons:
1. I know by heart the directions to get there
2. Cheap parking lot near by
( OOps, three reasons )
AND the main reason is the Scholarship Store with all fabric priced at $1 a yard...

The Scholarship Store at Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising is a total hit and miss experience. The fabrics are in a narrow hall in the back by the dressing rooms and the fabrics are whatever is donated. Also, the students at FIDM obviously probably nab anything great that makes it to the store BUT, I have found beautiful woolens and trims at ridiculous prices.
This trip the pickings were extremely slim and I recognized alot of bathing suit lycra that had been there my last visit months ago.
However at $1 a yard I scrounged around and found the striped knit and crazy blue knit that were nice quality. Then as the girl was cutting the knits I spotted the white gauze with the really pretty embroidery and sequins ( yes there are sequins but, I swear they're subtle ) and grabbed a couple yards of that.
So the knits are 60" wide and the gauze is 45" and I got VERY generous 1 1/2 yards of each for a whopping total for all three fabrics of $4.50. I am definitely satisfied with my purchases.

LA Fabric District

After FIDM I walked the few blocks down 9th until I reached Maple. This is where ALOT of fabric stores are located and smack in the middle of Maple is Michael Levine. A must stop on any fabric hunt.
The prices are just okay but, the selection of fabrics is impressive. From leather hides to oilcloth to Liberty of London to buttons, notions, etc, etc, etc you will probably find it at Michael Levine.

The Loft

Hidden up the stairs, directly across the street from Micheal Levine is the Loft. The sign on the elevator says it all.
Fabric is sold by weight at the unbelievable price of $2 per pound.

Boxes of Treasure

This is what you find when you reach the top of the stairs. A large room full of boxes of random fabrics. No rhyme or reason, just lots and lots of fabrics different sizes, textures, weaves, colors, all jumbled together in overflowing boxes.
Truly a treasure hunt. The lady in front of me had huge yardage of knit, velvet, animal print that was awesome.
And they will cut the fabric if you don't want the whole piece.
I don't think you can beat this price but, you never know what you'll find...

2.6 Llbs of Fabric

This is what 2.6 pounds of fabric looks like...
An amazing steal of 3 1/2 yards of 60" wide beautiful polished cotton in green ( for a test fit jacket ) and 2 1/2 yards of 60" wide off white for the second jacket.
There was so much fabric to dig through that it was a GOOD thing I was short on time.
Oh yeah, at $2 a pound the entire fabric purchase cost me $5.60


I actually spent ( time wise ) only 2 hours shopping downtown but, leaving at 4pm AND getting on a different freeway than I intended ( so technically I was not lost ) AND having to stop for gas AND mind-numbing traffic, the drive home took 2 hours!!!!!!!!!!
Trip tip: leave LA before 3pm, know how to get to the correct freeway and have gas in your car

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Hunt for Treasures...

I can't believe I've reached a time in my life when I can pretty much buy whatever I want, within reason. Somehow that makes paying alot for items boring. Anyone can order out of a catalog or pay full price, so I've really gotten addicted to the hunt for the elusive bargain. This is especially true for sewing supplies and books because many are no longer available. I've amassed a nice collection of vintage sewing books and funky, functional supplies.
Here are my top five locations I like to scout;
#5 Friends of the Library bookstores
#4 Assistance League thrift stores
#3 Garage sales
#2 Church rummage sales
#1 Estate sales
And today I chanced upon a treasure trove at a very small, picked over estate sale. Check out what I bought inside this box...


The estate sale had begun at 7:30am and it was already 11am so I didn't have high hopes. However I immediately spied a box with the brand new seam roll, pressing mitt and pattern weights so my hopes soared. Then it was a treasure hunt that yielded the funky collapsible tailor block, sleeve board and buttonhole guide. Inside the home on top of a sold television were the three sewing books and curved ruler. My arms were literally full and I'm thinking how much I should offer for all the items...would the sellers possibly go as low as $20?????
The next of kin of the deceased seamstress were thrilled that someone who sewed had gathered up all the sewing items. After some friendly chit chat they said I could have it all for... ( are you ready ) FIVE FREAKIN' BUCKS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SOLD


This tailor block that folds up flat is probably from the 1960s and it is AMAZING! It has a dozen nooks and cranies to press points, concave & convex curves, straight seams, etc. It was in the box, brand new with directions. I can't even put a price on how cool it is ( only to people that sew of course ). In 1960's terminology this is far-out groovy!!!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

yes they CAN

Over Labor Day there was a contest at South Coast Plaza for different organizations to build structures/sculptures from cans.
The results were very impressive.
This dress is the entry from FIDM and it took 8,000 cans to complete!!
The entries were all over the mall and across the street and no information on what was where, soooo I spent alot of time walking all over the mall looking for the shoe structure and never found it :(
I think the shoe was only on the poster as a promotion and was from a past contest.

...and my favorite

I liked this entry because it really had some personality. Of course, I forget which organization created this great 'can'struction but I did note that it took 6,500 cans to complete.

Monday, September 6, 2010

I've never met a contest I didn't like...

September is National Sewing Month ( whooopppeeeee ).

I posted a link at the right to the official website. There is a contest titled 'Accessorize Your Life' and of course I'm entering because I totally dig contests. Something about how random, yet interesting, are all the enteries. Anyways, I'm going to do a variation on this flower headband that I was sewing over the summer. Was going to post some for sale on etsy but, apparently my account is deeply dormant. Also, there are only like 60,378 other flower headbands on etsy for sale!

So put on your thinking cap and enter something already!

Youtube in Real Life

Here is the first knitted pole I saw and immediately demanded my photo be taken :)

I wouldn't even know what I was looking at if I hadn't watched the youtube video of the knitters in action. The big black hole of the Internet actually enabled me to feel mildly hip and relevant.

Monday, August 23, 2010


I can't believe I stumbled upon some actual works by urban guerrilla knitters that try to beautify cities. I've seen videos of the knitters in action on you tube and thought it was fantastic. In the middle of the night numerous knitters will converge on an agreed upon spot and begin covering poles with beautiful knitting.
Last weekend I was crossing the street in Berkeley when something caught my eye. It was knitting covering a pole! I was so excited and then we started looking around and noticed probably eight different poles covered with knitting. It is very subtle and no one else noticed until I let out my shout of surprise and delight. Of course I totally embarrassed my daughters but, even they admitted the knit covered poles were oddly interesting.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010


( Lisa Morrice appearing as Mrs. Wycherly )
( Steve Johnson appearing as Mr. Wycherly)

So the beginning of July the Gallimaufry Performing Arts ( see link on right ) contacts me to re-work some marionettes. Oh yeah, and they all need to be finished by July 20 because on August 5 they all will be in Scotland performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival ( see link at right ). And I already have vacation plans for July 8 through the 12th. How hard could it be? I'd basically have about 2 weeks to transform 4 marionettes, make a brand new one, and re-string 9 marionettes.

Well, luckily marionettes make perfect clients because they hang ( ha ha ) around your studio all day, don't complain if you stick a pin in them ( or saw off parts ), don't have an opinion, don't worry a costume will make them look fat, and are quite pleased with any end result :)

The challenge of this commission is that the play is an original production of a Ray Bradbury short story and is a fantastic blend of music, dance, and human actors whom the marionettes mimic ( kinda, but not really, like a mini me ). It's really a visually striking production and quite unique with the actors/dancers on stage with the marionettes.

The problem was that the marionettes were purchased from Europe and as the show evolved the marionettes appearance became more and more ill-suited to the story.

That's when I was called.

Extreme Costume Challenge: Make the Mr. & Mrs. Wycherly marionettes more closely resemble the actors portraying Mr. & Mrs. Wycherly.

Mrs. Wycherly: before

Mrs. Wycherly was quite a challenge. A total transformation was needed that went beyond a simple change of costume. She was literally a chunk of wood which made her flat-chested, bald, no waist, no thighs, and no upper arms. Lucky thing under her veil she had a pretty face! I stripped, sawed, padded, and sewed to create a new woman. Now I know how those women feel on extreme make-over shows:) She was a diamond in the rough and I think she polished up real pretty!

and MRS. WYCHERLY: after

Mrs. Wycherly is by far my most dramatic marionette make-over. She went from flat-chested, dark, gloomy, funeral attire to a sexy little pistol! She was easy to completely disassemble because she her 'body' was super simplistic. I actually greatly improved most of her joints and sawed a couple inches off her torso ( so she'd be closer in size to Mr. Wycherly ). All her costuming was made without patterns and if you've never sewn a 1/4" lapel, well you just haven't lived:) I also had to create her legs and wig, which were vitally important to her look. I made a wig cap, sewed long strands of fleece ( used for doll hair ) to tissue strips, painted the fleece pink and attached it to wig cap before attaching it to her head. Then I styled her bodacious hairdo and gently coated it all with glue because she's going to be doing some serious traveling! Break a leg Mrs. Wycherly.


Poor Mr. Wycherly looked so very out of place whenever he appeared on stage with his actor double. He was ages older than everyone, much shorter and his strings were not long enough! Although he was very nice and polite to work with during his transformation.

...and MR. WYCHERLY: After

I'd like to introduce you to Mrs. Wycherly's dashing husband. As you can see the actor looked nothing like the sad little old man marionette that was purchased to portray him. So I had alot of work to do! The difference was that this was a well-made marionette. What was under the clothes was more impressive than the costumes. All wood carved limbs with intricate jointing, a shaped torso, and a head that swiveled on the neck. In fear of upsetting the perfect balance of the marionette I did not disrobe him and only added to his ensemble. I did saw his thighs in half and add a 1" block of wood because he was MUCH shorter than Mrs. Wycherly and the director wanted him taller. And the green hair definitely helps identify him for the audience.

...and BABY makes three

The only brand new marionette that needed to be made was a baby. Luckily I already had some interesting ( hopefully baby-like ) faces that I use for my flower marionettes. Add a little stuffing, a baby blanket and you got a baby...with a face only a mother could love.

switch the witch: BEFORE

This is how the two witch marionettes looked when I was requested to make them more 'cirque de soleil'. An interesting challenge with serious time restraints; 4 days. These are incredibly simple marionettes with a block of wood for the torso, very primitive jointing, and details only in plaster cast face, hands and calfs/feet. The faces are painted fabulously and the super draped costumes hid alot.

switch the witch: AFTER

So this is my marionette make-over for the two witches. I think I succeeded in funking them up! Amazing what a new hair-do can accomplish:) Since I didn't want to sew completely new clothes I was challenged to change up the drab, long black witch clothes. I think they look a little Victorian and I'm okay with that

What was THAT all about????

So my marionette make-overs will be having a one night European preview performance in Laguna Beach on July 22. Because come August they will be jetting off to Edinburgh, Scotland to be part of the Fringe Festival.
If you'd like to discover more about the Gallimaufry Performing Arts and/or the Fringe Festival in Scotland ( wish I was going ) then check out the links to your right. Gallimaufry and Fringe are both under Theatre. Remember the musical that stars the marinettes ( ok, and alot of very talented actors ) is Ray Bradbury's 2116 the Musical. Type it in under events for description of play and performance information.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Found in the OC

So I was in a part of OC that I don't usually travel and trying to find a freeway onramp because I was kinda lost and suddenly I'm passing this HUGE yardage store that I'd heard about called Big Y Yardage!
Big Y Yardage is located at 764 N. Tustin St., Orange, CA. 92867 Phone#(714) 744-9413
Mon.-Fri 9:30-6:00 Sat. 9:30-5:30 Sun. 12:00-5:00
I could not find a website for the store, so be sure to call first in case the store closes:(
The store has primarily heavier, upholstery type fabrics but, lots are light weight enough for jackets or skirts. There is a fairly large sale section and LOTS of trims. I purchased some really pretty blue linen blend with large embroidered flowers for a skirt. Hopefully I'll find time to actually sew it. I did resist a few other fabrics that were crying out to be made into skirts or my favorite jacket pattern...


My daughter had very rigid gown guidelines ( no trains, mermaid, strapless, cleavage, etc. ) from the Assistance League for her Rose Medallion Ball so we headed to Dave's Bridal with guidelines in hand. My kid knew EXACTLY what she didn't want ( big full skirt, lace, sequins, bling, corset bodice ), she wanted a simple, elegant, unadorned gown. She really liked this one and I said the words my daughters hate to hear... " I can make that! "